LSU baseball narrowly drops back and forth game to Vanderbilt, sets up rubber match

LSU baseball drops game two to Vanderbilt in a rollercoaster game. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball looked like it had a good chance to claim its first SEC series of the season for most of game two against Vanderbilt.

Every time the Tigers needed a response, it seemed like they had one. LSU reclaimed the lead after losing it three different times, but it couldn’t do it one last time when it needed it most.

LSU (21-11, 3-8 SEC) and Vanderbilt (24-7, 7-4 SEC) will now have the series decided in game three after the Commodores came away with an 8-6 win in game two.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “Those late leads that you have and not being able to finish it out, those are tough. It wears on the players, but we still have a lot in front of us.”

Tommy White got things started in the bottom of the first inning after Gage Jump forced a three up, three down inning. White hit a solo homer to give LSU a 1-0 lead. His homer was the first of five home runs in the game.

Both teams went hitless in the second inning before Vanderbilt got its first hit of the game in the third inning with a double. RJ Austin hit his third homer of the year with two outs gone to give the Commodores a 2-1 lead.

LSU didn’t trail for long though. Ashton Larson led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run that tied the game up. Steven Milam got on base with a single before White came up to bat looking to retake the lead. White blasted a two-RBI homer to left field to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead.

Vanderbilt would cut away at the deficit in the next inning after Matthew Polk singled on a bunt and reached second on a throwing error. Jayden Davis hit an RBI single afterwards to score Polk and bring the game within one.

The fifth inning would be Jump’s last full inning of work. He gave up a single and then a groundout brought the runner home to tie the game 4-4. Jump finished the night with three strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched. He gave up six hits, four earned runs and no walks.

Bryce Cunningham was for Brennan Seiber in the bottom of the fifth after putting two runners on base. LSU managed four hits and five earned runs on the Vanderbilt starter. Jared Jones hit an RBI single in the next at bat after Seiber entered the game to let LSU retake the lead 5-4.

Vanderbilt would again tie the game up in the sixth inning. Thatcher Hurd came in to pitch with one out gone and a runner on second. A groundout scored the runner and tied the game 5-5.

But the Tigers would reclaim the lead again in the bottom of the inning. Mac Bingham grounded out and allowed a runner to come home to give LSU a 6-5 lead.

Nate Ackenhausen came in to pitch for the Tigers in the top of the seventh inning and didn’t have any trouble until the eighth inning. He hit a batter with a pitch and then gave up a homer to Davis that gave Vanderbilt the lead 7-6.  It was Davis’ sixth RBI of the series after he had two in game one.

In the bottom of the eighth LSU got a runner on base thanks to a Michael Braswell III walk before Larson hit a short infield single that was thrown over the first baseman’s head. The error put runners on the corners with one out gone, but the Commodores turned a double play to get out of trouble.

Ackenhausen came out of the game for Will Hellmers in the top of the ninth with one out gone and a runner on second. Hellmers forced one out before Justin Loer came in to close the inning out. Loer gave up an RBI single that scored another and gave Vandy an 8-6 lead.

“It’s about getting over that hump,” Johnson said. “Not just hoping that we’re going to win, but somebody stepping up and executing when we need it.”

The Tigers got a runner on base thanks to a leadoff single from Bingham in the bottom of the inning, but that’s all the Tigers could manage before an Alex Milazzo strikeout ended the game.

“We’re playing a difficult schedule, and it doesn’t give you a lot of margin for error in winning and losing,” Johnson said. “We have things to play for in front of us, though it feels disappointing on a night like this.”

Game three will start tomorrow at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on SEC Network+.

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Will Nickel

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